Spring 2021 Dialogue

Welcome to our current dialogue.

We ask that you post an initial response to one or more of these questions from March 8th-12th. Then, please respond to at least two posts to generate dialogues across contexts and experience. The dialogue period will be from March 8th-26th.

Recommended readings

Dutro, E. (2017). Let’s start with heartbreak: The perilous potential of trauma in literacy. Language Arts94(5), 326.

Golden, N. (2020). The Importance of Narrative: Moving Towards Sociocultural Understandings of Trauma-Informed Praxis. Occasional Paper Series2020(43), 7.

Jones, S., & Spector, K. (2017). Becoming unstuck: Racism and misogyny as traumas diffused in the ordinary. Language Arts94(5), 302.

Simmons, D. (2020). If we aren’t addressing racism, we aren’t addressing trauma. ASCD In-Service.

Simmons, D. (2020). Confronting inequality/The Trauma we don’t see. ASCD In-Service.

Suggested Dialogue Questions

  • How did the authors define trauma? What did you learn about trauma-informed teaching practices in literacy classrooms and/or in schools? 

  • What is the intersection between trauma informed instruction and anti-racism?  In what ways does using trauma informed instruction help us to create anti-racist educational spaces for our students? 

  • What connections did you make to the articles, as a teacher and/or student? What questions do you have?

You are invited to respond to one or more of these questions. (To post, please log in using a Facebook, Twitter, or WordPress account.) Please feel free to share experiences, dilemmas, questions, or information about particular contexts of teaching and learning (e.g., where you student teach, teach, study, or participant observe) as you explore intersections between trauma-informed teaching and anti-racist teaching. You may also feel free to recommend or cite texts (e.g., articles, books, films) that may be of interest to others on a thread.

 

7 Comments

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  1. Hello everyone! My name is Ornella and I am currently pursuing my Single-Subject Credential and I would like to teach Math for middle school students in the future as well. Teaching such a young age can be fun, but also stressful at times because every student is going through something we have no idea about. Through our teaching, we have the opportunity to learn about these past traumas of our students if they are willing to share it with us. As Dr. Golden stated, “As language instantiates culture and
    narratives are shared within and shaped by cultural contexts, a focus on young people’s narratives can help shift trauma-informed pedagogy from a focus on a deficit-laden individual learner to a focus on young people’s experiences and ecologies” (73). It is important to see that trauma comes in many different ways, especially for young adults and that as teachers it is our job to see that every student is being helped in some way. I think us future educators should create a pedagogy that can benefit the students in the long run and influence them as well. I also believe that it is important to show that they are not alone, and that teachers go through hardships too. When the students see that their teachers are human too, they feel a sense of comfort and togetherness.

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    • Hi Ornella! It is true that teachers go through hardships too. I think that when trying to connect with students they will respond when teachers are honest, vulnerable, and can share common experiences. That gives students a space to open up, not feel judged and see that their teachers are human too. Teachers can’t make connections or know what is affecting their students until they really listen and take the time to get to know their students. I plan to share my experiences as a biracial person hoping that it opens the door to learning about everyone’s positions in life.

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    • Hi, Ornella! I deeply resonated with your comments about relating to our students and letting the lessons learned through healed trauma reflect in our teaching. I’m pursuing a degree in Secondary English Education. Literature has unveiled how much hurt humans store within themselves that eventually perpetuates society. It’s not all doom and gloom, but so much of the human experience deals with navigating the pain that seems to be inevitable in life. Racial judgment and trauma don’t have to be a permanent fixture in the human experience, but it’s something that so many of us deal with (and are often scared to share our stories). I have personally dealt with blatant racism and microaggressions throughout my life. I can’t think of any reason why, in my pursuit to implement anti-racist teaching practices in my curriculum, I should refrain from sharing my own stories of prejudice. In Dena Simmons’s piece, “Confronting Inequity / The Trauma We Don’t See” she discusses how she stored her trauma. It gave her a false sense of productivity as she ignored her pain by overworking herself. When she began to share her stories, it changed her life and it changed her approach to teaching. If we want our students to feel comfortable sharing their stories, then we should start with sharing ours. Thank you for your comments! They gave me a lot to think about.

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  2. Hello,

    My name is Katy and I am a middle school special education teacher and I am currently getting my EdD in Instructional Leadership. After reading the articles and everyone’s thoughtful posts and comments, I am reminded of how important partnerships and collaborative relationships with our students’ families are to ensure effective trauma informed instruction. Too often our students’ and their families are met with deficit based assumptions and judgements. The all too common savior complex of teachers compounds on the impact of trauma, unintentionally laying blame on students’ families, when the blame is on the systematic inequities and injustices as a whole. I think with meaningful relationships and collaboration with students’ families and communities, the safe spaces and trauma informed strategies that are being referred to throughout the discussion will be the most effective and impactful for students.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi Katy, my name is Susie and I am part of the Single-Subject Credential Program at CSU Long Beach. I enjoy reading your post and I completely agree with you, sometimes there are too many assumptions about students’ families and the time isn’t taken to get to know them. I believe it is important towards making a safe environment for our students. We also have to make sure that we discuss what we will do to help the students and keep them informed that we are there to support them in any way we can.

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    • Hi Katy,
      What a powerful post! I agree on the importance of meaningful relationships with our students’ families as a part of their learning development. When students have support coming from both inside the home and outside of the home such as the classroom, they feel supported and motivated to put in the effort in their learning process. I also agree that our students’ families are too often put to blame unintentionally, and that has a huge effect on our students. By giving support and collaborating with families instead of being in opposition, we will see greater results for the students. Teamwork works not just only among teachers, but among teachers and families of our students. Thank you for your post!

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  3. While reading Dena Simmons’s article “Confronting Inequality/ The trauma We Don’t See” I related to her on a personal level and did not notice my trauma until just two years ago. I am a mixed-race female and I grew up in a low-income Hispanic household. Growing up my mom and I would be evicted multiple times, sleep in our car, a shelter, motel, or family member’s house. Growing up I just thought “being an adult is hard” and I empathize with my mother’s struggles. I got a job at 15 to help pay rent, I did moderately well in school but I always feared and worried that one day we would get another eviction notice or that the locks on our front door would be locked again and everything we owned would be taken away. Because of this I focused more on working, gave all the money I made to my mom, and began to slack in school. I would stay up late trying to catch up on coursework, but then fall asleep in class the next morning. It wasn’t until two years ago that I found out my mother has had a substance abuse issue my whole life and that my hard-earned money to help keep a roof over our head was being used on the opposite. Once I found out this traumatizing news I had a new fear – the fear of falling into the same situation as my mother. My trauma caused me to work harder in school, make the dean’s list, become a manager at my job, make a lot of supportive friends, and decide to become an educator.

    Simmons mentions in her article that “Trauma does not manifest in the same ways in different people. We must engage in a concerted effort to recognize the diverse manifestations of trauma in our students and stop lumping them under one umbrella” (Simmons 89). Reading this allowed me to reflect that trauma is not simply one shade, shape, or size, but rather it’s a whole Rolodex of experiences and reactions people have towards events in their lives. And as we begin to understand and develop the person we are going to be we also need to understand how that can affect the students we will have in our classroom. Traumas are nothing to take lightly, but understanding our own trama can help us to effectively help our students as they experience events that may be traumatizing to them – even if they don’t realize it themselves yet. We as educators can’t fully help students heal and progress in their lives if we ourselves aren’t familiar with the resources and coping mechanisms needed to move forward and grow. We as people need to understand that trauma takes many forms, more than any of us can even think of. Once we can understand this about trauma, we can then begin to not only help ourselves but the students in our care.

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